James Verini at the Daily Beast notices something we've been tracking here at C&L too: Neo-Nazis and far-right extremists are not only recruiting more openly, they're being much more public in their full-on expressions of racism, nativism, and xenophobia. Unlike David Duke, these characters aren't even trying to hide it:
A year after President Obama's election, hate groups are feeling bolder than they have in over a decade, and their usually insular anger is beginning to spill into the public realm. This weekend, the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization, held rallies in Arizona and Minnesota. Those demonstrations came on the heels of similar actions in Southern California, where epithet-spewing white supremacists were forced to disband by rock-throwing counter-protesters. The upsurge in visibility is more than anecdotal—law-enforcement officials are monitoring levels of agitation among extremist groups that they say are the highest since Timothy McVeigh’s deadly attack in Oklahoma City nearly 15 years ago.
The outcries of right-wing tea-partiers, death panellers, birthers, and the like are accompanied by increased activity all along the paranoid fringe.
“It’s sort of a beehive now,” says James Cavanaugh, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Cavanaugh was one of the agents at the standoff at David Koresh’s Waco, Texas, compound in 1993 (which McVeigh timed his terrorist act to commemorate, two years later, on April 19, 1995). Last October in Tennessee, Cavanaugh aided in the arrest of two white supremacists charged with plotting to assassinate Obama, and in 2007 he helped bring down members of the Alabama Free Militia, who were found with hundreds of hand- and rifle grenades and other explosives. The arrests had an unsettling familiarity. “We haven’t had that kind of activity since the 1990s,” Cavanaugh says.
“We believe there is a real resurgence,” adds Lieutenant David Hall, director of the Missouri Information Analysis Center, which tracks antigovernment extremist groups around the Midwest. “The atmosphere is ripe.”
That was obvious to anyone who was in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, this past weekend:
The Arizona Republic reports that, as is so often the case, the anti-Nazis outnumbered the actual Nazis by about 10-to-1:
Members of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group based out of Detroit, were met with a greater number of protesters.
Phoenix police kept the groups apart, as members from both sides shouted insults at each other.
Jeff Schoep, a NSM leader, said his group was standing in defense of America.
J.T Ready of Mesa also spoke at the America First Rally. He said the group was defending his country against invaders.
After about an hour, the neo-Nazis left the capitol to march down Jefferson Avenue before getting into their cars at 12th Avenue.
Andy Hernandez of Phoenix said he was surprised at the different types of people who showed up to protest the neo-Nazis.
"There's all kinds of people, from different races and colors," Hernandez said. "We represent America. We didn't shut them down, but we gave them a counter protest. We just oppose what Nazi represents."
Ironically, that was just what Ready himself whined to a reporter for Phoenix's Fox station in the video above:
Reporter: Do you consider yourself a National Socialist?
Ready: National Socialist? I am.
Reporter: Weren't Nazis considered National Socialists?
Ready: Well, there's a term that starts with an 'N' for calling black people too, uh, so I think that the 'N' term for National Socialists, calling them Nazis, is the same thing.
*Sniff* Gosh, we all should bow our heads in shame for having referenced National Socialists derogatorily. Lord knows they don't deserve it.
Anyway, it's true that the German National Socialists never called themselves "Nazis" because it was a indeed thought to be a derogatory term. On the other hand, American Nazis like George Lincoln Rockwell have always embraced the word. Why should anyone stop calling them what they plainly are?
BTW, there was a similar NSM rally in Austin, Minnesota, this weekend, that drew even fewer Nazis.
As Verini suggests, much of the naked bigotry these people express is being encouraged by the rise of extremist rhetoric generally, within the supposed conservative mainstream:
So where might another McVeigh—or worse—spring from?
Experts on extremist groups say that the outcries of right-wing tea-partiers, death panellers, birthers, and the like are accompanied by increased activity all along the paranoid fringe—from radical border-patrol groups to skinheads to sovereign citizens. Two camps are particularly restive: militia enthusiasts and white supremacists; their members are seething because of the persistence of two wars and the election of a black (and Democratic) president with an ambitious agenda. The previous upsurge of antigovernment activity in the 1990s—of which McVeigh’s attack marked the apex—was set off in part by a recession and the election of a liberal president.
The Nazi bubbles we're seeing now are bubbling up out of a much bigger cauldron of toxic garbage that is being stirred up by the Right. Look for a lot more bubbles in the coming months.